The Most Important Issue That Democrats Must Campaign On If They Hope To Win the 2002 Mid-Term Elections (With An Important Lesson For PR Practitioners)

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Arthur Solomon

Democratic Debate # 8: So Long, Iowa. Hello Mike?Historically, Democrats have campaigned on bread and butter issues. But in my opinion beginning right now – with only a little more than a month before the mid-term elections on November 8 – they must change their tactics for the remainder of the days leading up to the mid-terms and campaign on the most important issue facing the country – the continuation of our constitutional democracy.

President Joe Biden was right when he called out the MAGA Republicans as a threat to democratic values and Democratic candidates should follow his lead. 

  • Democrats must not let the public forget about the insurrection at the Capitol that led to the deaths of police defending it.
  • Democrats must not let the public forget that as president Donald Trump praised the authoritarian leadership of the governments of Russia, China, North Korea and others.
  • Democrats must not let the public forget that the former president has embraced far-right militia groups and conspiracy theories like QAnon.
  • Democrats must let the public know that even today MAGA Republicans claim the 2020 election was stolen by the Democrats.
  • Democrats must not let the public forget that when he left the White House Donald Trump took documents, including many top secret ones, to his residence in Florida instead of turning them over to the National Archives, where they belong.
  • Democrats must not let the public forget that Trump’s lawyers lied and said that all documents were turned over to the National Archives.
  • Democrats must not let the public forget that Donald Trump attempted to get the Georgia Secretary of State to “find” the number of votes necessary for him to claim victory there.
  • Democrats must not let the public forget that Donald Trump lied to his followers about how the money he asked them to contribute would be used.
  • Democrats must not let the public forget that in his final days as president Donald Trump pardoned convicted felons because they supported him.
  • Democrats must not let the public forget that throughout his life Donald Trump misled people who believed in him, including having to pay $25-million to settle fraud claims against him for his fraudulent Trump University.
  • Democrats must not let the public forget that Donald Trump and three of his children were sued by New York State Attorney General Letitia James for fraudulently overvaluing his assets by deceiving lenders, tax authorities and insurers by billions of dollars in order to get better financial terms for his company, thus enriching himself.
  • Democrats must not let the public forget that on September 15 the former president alluded to street violence if he is indicted during a radio interview on the Hugh Hewitt show.

The above are only an abridged list of Donald Trump’s failings that Democratic candidates must remind voters about, the most important one being the former president’s urging a mob to march to the Capitol and doing nothing to stop the rabble from storming it.

Democratic candidates should follow President Joe Biden’s lead and call out the MAGA Republicans for their actions which is a threat to our democracy.  

Another reason that Democratic candidates should ride with Biden is that an Associated Press –NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, conducted between September 9-12, shows that Biden has recovered from a low of 36% in July to 45%. He must be doing something right. Democratic candidates who are running away from Biden are making a mistake, in my opinion.

The above poll is not the only recent one that favors Democrats. A poll by the University Of Chicago Harris School Of Public Policy and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, conducted between July 28 and August 1, showed that majorities of U.S. adults showed “broad public support” for gun restriction legislation.

And a Reuters/Ipsos poll in early September, conducted days after Biden said that Donald Trump and his allies are an extremist threat to democracy, found that a majority of Americans believe that “Trump’s movement is undermining democracy.” Fifty-eight percent of respondents in the two-day poll – including one in four Republicans – said Trump’s “Make  America Great Again” movement is threatening America’s democratic foundations.”

Also, a New York Times /Siena poll of 1399 registered voters, conducted by telephone from September 6-14, had 46% saying they back the Democratic candidate for Congress in their district with 44% choosing a Republican.

However some polls show advantage for the GOP. So it’s imperative that Democrats also stage a massive get out the vote campaign.

That does not mean that the Democrats should entirely neglect mentioning their legislative victories but they should be put on the back burner with the threat to democracy being the main theme.

By doing that Democrats would be taking a page out of past Republican playbooks which the GOP had used successfully during presidential election campaigns, long before Donald Trump captured the party, by conducting a “values” strategy.

The “values” campaign that Democrats should conduct should emphasize the threat to democracy, the continuation of our Democracy and the rights of all individuals to live in a society that provides them with social and economic equality. 

News emanating from January 6 committee hearings, the Department of Justice and other investigations of Trump and his cohorts, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and Democratic legislative victories will complement the Democratic “values” campaign strategy.  Democratic candidates need not emphasize these. Media coverage and candidate’s surrogates will keep them in the spotlight. Democratic candidate’s foremost talking points should be the threat to American democracy. 

President Joe Biden should continue attacking former President Trump and his supporters for undermining American democracy. And so should Democratic candidates.

As a speaker, Joe Biden doesn’t measure up to past Democratic presidents like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Barrack Obama. But what he says about the MAGA Republicans being a threat to our democracy speaks loudly.

The Important Lesson For PR Practitioners

For many months Republicans have been salivating about their chances of retaking control of Congress.  But since Biden’s legislative victories and improved polling numbers GOP spokespersons have not been so confident.  This scenario is similar to PR agency account handlers who are confident that their programs are winning ones because immediately after launching a plan it garners a few hits. Account handlers should remember that the results of a program can take many months to evaluate and not claim immediate victory after a program’s launch. It is also important for account handlers to remember that what they consider a successful program is not necessarily what the client or the client’s supervisors believes. PR practitioners should also realize that it’s not the number of placements that determine a successful program. It’s the quality of the hits. In my opinion, one placement in a quality outlet, like a national magazine, a top tier newspaper or television show containing client talking points is worth much more than many dozens of hits in secondary outlets.


The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and was on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He has been a key player on Olympic marketing programs and also has worked at high-level positions directly for Olympic organizations. During his political agency days, he worked on local, statewide and presidential campaigns .He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com.